Union bosses have vowed to monitor changes at a Blackpool school set to become the first in the resort to be forced into academy status.
Palatine Community Sports College, which was labelled as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors, is to become an academy under a Department for Education ruling.
But union bosses and Blackpool Council, which currently runs the school on St Annes Road, have raised concerns over the DfE’s decision, saying a school improvement plan in place is already improving standards of education at the school.
Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member responsible for schools, said: “Palatine Community Sports College has received an academy order from the Department for Education.
“A school improvement plan is in place and we are working with the Department for Education, the Governors and the sponsor named on the academy order – Bright Futures Educational Trust.
“We are confident that Palatine is in a good position to get better and improve and our number one priority, as always, is the students.”
Union bosses have vowed to keep an eye on the situation.
Ros Homer, Blackpool branch secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “From an NUT point of view we don’t like academies but we would rather have a local, educational sponsor.
“We wouldn’t want someone coming from outside Blackpool, that wouldn’t be good for Blackpool.
“We need to see what Bright Futures’ background is, what successes it’s had, if it has managed to turn schools around without any detriment to staff terms and conditions and the children.”
Chris Powell, headteacher of Palatine Community Sports College, said: “Palatine Sports College is planning to become a sponsored academy from October 2013.
“We are consulting with parents and carers at present to answer any questions they may have and expect to be able to report the outcome of the consultation at the end of July.
“We are always seeking the best ways to provide the best educational opportunities for our young people – that is our core purpose.”
Bright Futures Educational Trust,based in the North West, was set up in 2011.
‘The school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose’
An inspection carried out by the independent inspectorate, Ofsted, in January found:
> Pupil premium funding has not been effectively targeted to support the students who need it.
> The majority [of teaching] requires improvement because not enough allowance is made for the different learning needs of students.
> Changes in the senior leadership of the school over the last two years have disrupted and slowed the school’s improvement.
But a letter sent by Ofsted inspectors to headteacher Chris Powell in March, also sent to Secretary of State Michael Gove, Blackpool Council and the school’s governing body, read: “The school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose. The local authority’s statement of action is fit for purpose.”
Blackpool Council has said it is confident the improvement plan was taking effect and is disappointed by the new developments.